Mahashivratri is being celebrated across the nation

March 6th, 2008 - 2:50 pm ICT by admin  

Varanasi/New Delhi/ Srinagar/ Aluva (Kerala), Mar 6 (ANI): Mahashivratri is being celebrated with religious fervour throughout the country today.
Over seven lakh devotees from all over the world have arrived at the world famous Kashi-Vishwanath temple in Varanasi for the festival.
Hundreds of Shiv temples situated in various parts of the city have been tastefully decorated.
Devotees started the celebrations a day before by taking out processions with men dressed as Lord Shiva himself. They took part in a colourful
procession, which included playing traditional musical instruments and distributing sweets to all. Even children dressed up in divine costumes on
the occasion.
The procession, complete with wedding bands, colourful illuminated float carrying a huge statue of Lord Shiva and dancing devotees, traversed
the length and breadth of the town before culminating at a temple.
“Hindus believe that Lord Shiva and his consort, Parvati were married on this day and the Lord blessed his devotees, said Vishnu Dayal, a
devotee.
In New Delhi, devotees queued up at Shiva temples since the break of dawn to offer prayers and offerings of flowers, sweets and incense.
Shubhda, a devotee, who reached a temple to offer prayers early in the morning said: “We pray to the God, offer fruits and flowers. We also fast
on this day.”
In Jammu and Kashmir, Mahashivratri popularly known as “Herath” is being celebrated throughout the Kashmir valley and in some parts of
Jammu region.
While people in Kashmir believe ‘Herath’ as the wedding day of Lord Shiva with Parvati, others consider as the day when Lord Shiva manifested
in his human form on the earth to bless his devotees and redeem them.
In Kerala, thousands of devotees took holy dip in Periyar River near Aluva and perform religious rites named ‘ pithru tharpan’ for salvation of their
ancestors. The rituals began with the Shivarathri vilakku (Lamp) procession at the Aluva Mahadeve Temple on the banks of the river.
The State Government has taken measures for the smooth conduct of the festivities.
Lord Shiva forms part of the trinity of Gods, along with Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu, in the Hindu mythology.
There is a legend behind Shiva’s phallic form. It is believed that once Brahma and Vishnu were having an argument as to who was supreme.
Brahma declared himself to be the Creator of all and thus more revered.
Vishnu claimed that since he was the Creator and the Destroyer, he commanded more respect. At that moment a huge lingam ablaze with
flames appeared from nowhere. Both the Gods were so overwhelmed by its constantly increasing size, that they forgot their quarrel and decided
to determine its size. Vishnu took the form of a boar and went to the netherworld while Brahma in the form of a swan ascended to the skies.
Neither could ascertain the size. Just then, Shiva appeared out of the lingam and proclaimed that he was the progenitor of both of them. He was
the Creator, Preserver and the Destroyer. He demanded that thereafter he be worshipped in his phallic form, the lingam.
On the day of Shivratri, the lingam is bathed with the five sacred offerings of a cow, called panchagavya. Thereafter, the five foods of immortality -
milk, clarified butter, curd, honey and sugar - are placed before the lingam. Dhatura and jati, though poisonous fruits, are believed to be sacred to
Shiva and thus offered at His temples. Eleven is considered to be the sacred number of the Lord.
Devotees observe a fast on this day with some of them do not even partake a drop of water throughout the day. They also keep vigil all night. (ANI)

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